Friday, May 06, 2005

Back in the Day: Kelly Ripa

When I first saw Kelly on Live!, she seemed totally radical. Well, at least a little bit radical.

Instead of scarry Kathie Lee, here was this bubbly goofball talking about all the intimate, messy aspects of pregnancy. I felt like clicking my heels when she talked about her swelling bossom. I loved seeing that big belly teeter totter across the screen. And I loved it when she tried to gross Regis out. It wasn't hard. All she had to do was say the word "lactation."

I *loved* that she said the word "lactation."

Anyway, that was about five years ago. Now, Kelly is the recipient of such honors as "best arms" (says readers of InTouch). Instead of pleasantly goofy and quirky, she more often comes off as just plain fried. I don't know what's in her cornflakes, but sometimes her head looks like a shiny styrofoam ball that is about to explode. I know that sounds harsh. But I am tempted to attribute Kelly's changes in appearance (a dwindling, "virtual" body) and performance (a less nuanced sense of comedic timing, jokes that are just less funny) to hours logged in front of the camera. Never mind that she was the pioneer "yummy mommy" -- a trend that warrants a future post all to itself. The things is, I'm sad that what initially seemed real and "Live" (Kelly herself) seems increasingely drained and pulseless. I'm not sure why this happens (I have some ideas), but I wish it didn't. It's like the longer women are in front of the camera the more colorless they get -- bleached out and mystic-tan orange. What is going on here? Why doesn't this happen to men ? (Ryan Seacrest excluded)

Could it be the life in the spotlight is dramatically different if you're a woman?

This isn't to say there aren't plenty of interesting, talented women on TV or interesting, provocative representations of women on TV. But daytime / morning talk is pretty much a wasteland these days.

Except for Oprah, of course. We heart her. Especially when she gives shit away!

But isn't it mostly women who watch these shows? Are skinny chemincally altered women really what people want to see?

And I don't care how many bookclubs you have, if you're starving yourself to be camera-friendly, you're sending a pretty potent message to your viewers. Some might say it's a female celebrity's job to be skinny, and to that I simply ask: why?

Anyway, here's a clip of Ripa at her finest:


rockslinga said...

i'm so excited about this blog! it's so awesome! bling,

Jenny said...

Really interesting post. I've been noticing that Ripa's been getting much tabloid press lately--especially since she's been charged with an eating disorder and, as you say, seems to be becoming more "plastic" by the minute. With regard to your question, "is this what women really want to see?" I recommend this discussion of what makes a top-selling magazine cover girl:

femme feral said...

Thanks for the link, Jenny! That article actually gives me hope.

It's interesting that the article was posted on a Sarah Michele Gellar message board. You know how much I *love* Buffy. And I love SMG. What's interesting is that I actually started to feel really worried for SMG in Buffy's sixth and seventh seasons. The direction in which the writer's took her character seemed so wrong -- almost abusive -- and to me it appeared as though SMG's appearance was somehow expressing her suffering. The more unnecessary pain her character endures, the more reedy Gellar appears. Of course her character isn't any less strong (in fact, she seems to get only better and better at fighting), but SMG herself seems drained and tired. SMG has said that she lost in the neighborhood of 20 lbs. over the course of the Buffy series (and she's only 5'1" or 2"), and she's also mentioned how close she felt to that character. This is wild speculation of my part, but I think SMG internalized some of Buffy's pain, and that some of that pain took its toll physically.

Andrew said...

I agree. At first Ripa came across as spunky, sassy, and at times irreverent. She was the quirky wild card to Regis’ straight man. But more and more she seems overworked and undernourished. She also tends to make a lot of jokes at her own expense, (jokes, specifically, about all the things she doesn’t know), and not in that charming Conan O’Brien way (after all, we all know you went to Harvard, Conan), but in a more self-degrading manner, playing the dolt, not just the goofball, on the show. It bothers me, especially since, if I remember correctly, it was Regis who pronounced Pythagoras “Pith-a-goras” on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? I’m not trying to bash Regis here, but Pithagoras? Is that some type of rare dinosaur I’ve never of? Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that it bothers me that Regis comes across as the brains on the show, when it’s more likely the other way around.